In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, and the entire world was faced with a global Public Health crisis. Yet, every day, people in low-income countries and even some high-income countries face obstacles in accessing essential health services, health information, and resources to prevent and treat disease. According to a report from the World Bank and the World Health Organization, at least half of the world's population does not have access to primary and essential health services.
(WHO and The World Bank, "Tracking universal health coverage: 2017 global monitoring report.”).
Some of the most alarming examples of the inequity in accessing this Human Right are found among Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities. According to the periodic report by The United Nations' Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, "The State of the World's Indigenous Peoples": "indigenous peoples suffer higher rates of ill health and have dramatically shorter life expectancy than other groups living in the same countries. This inequity results in indigenous peoples suffering unacceptable health problems, and they are more likely to experience disabilities and dying at a younger age than their non-indigenous counterparts. “
Many factors contribute to this systematic denial of these most basic Human Rights that crosscuts through the diversity of Indigenous Peoples in all continents: "living conditions, income levels, employment rates, access to safe water, sanitation, health services and food availability (...) destruction to their lands, territories and resources (...) climate change and environmental contamination (...) geographical isolation and poverty, which results in not having the means to pay the high cost for transport or treatment (...) discrimination, racism and a lack of cultural understanding and sensitivity (...) [and] lack of data. “As detailed in the "Minority and Indigenous Trends 2021" report by Minority Rights Group, the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated and made clear the inequality of access to Public Health services and information that Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities face.
Throughout all its stages, this fight Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities had to take up with COVID-19 reveals the inequity they face in accessing public health in general: higher risk of exposure, lack of protection from the socio-economic fallout of the disease, scarcity of medical equipment, tragic global vaccine and medicine distribution. And, as it has become clear by the current vaccine rollout, not even selfishness has managed to drive high-income countries to move boldly towards more equitable access to healthcare for all human beings. Instead, sadly, ignoring the possibility of new mutations arising from vaccine inequity seems to be the preferred course of action.
Azimuth World Foundation upholds the belief in free, universal, and equitable access to healthcare because it's a human right essential to the realization of all other human rights and a guarantee of a person's dignity as a human being. This is why we fund grassroots projects by organizations that know their communities' health needs and are trying to advance their access to Public Health services and information.